Healthcare Roundup—Atrium-UNC talks stuck on leadership concerns; Ex-RWJBarnabus staffers file whistleblower suit

Executive looking out window
Atrium Health and UNC Health Care are debating leadership issues in their merger talks. (Getty/Tom Merton)

Atrium Health-UNC Health Care merger talks hung up on concerns about control 

William Roper, M.D., CEO of UNC Health Care, said that a number of issues have been resolved in ongoing discussions with Atrium Health, formerly known as Carolinas HealthCare system, over their planned merger, and the talks now center on who will control the new unified health system. 

The union between Atrium and UNC would create one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the U.S., and has serious implications for UNC's medical school, which is state-owned. The two systems had announced that Gene Woods, the CEO of Atrium, would serve as the new system's CEO, and Roper would become chair of the board. 

When Roper steps down, Atrium's board chair would take over, with terms rotating. But the length of those terms has not been set, one of a number of leadership issues still unsolved, Roper said. If the leadership plan is "not properly balanced then we won't have a deal," Roper said. (News & Observer

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Former RWJBarnabus Health employees file whistleblower suit against the system 

Two former employees of RWJBarnabus health have sued the system, alleging that they were fired after voicing concerns about billing practices, sexual harassment and other conduct. 

Registered nurse Jamie Pelosi said in the suit that she was fired Dec. 22, 2017, for issuing the complaints, while paramedic Jeffrey McBride—who was romantically involved with Pelosi—said he was fired for backing up her claims. 

Neither was informed as to why they were fired, according to the lawsuit, and neither had received negative performance reviews or discipline at work. (LawsuitPDF

Ex-Martha's Vineyard Hospital CEO heading to Alaska, while dispute with Partners continues 

Joseph L. Woodin, who was fired as CEO of Martha's Vineyard Hospital last year, has been hired by South Peninsula Hospital in Alaska to serve as chief executive, but he has not resolved his dispute with Partners HealthCare and Vineyard hospital over his termination. 

Woodin was ousted with little explanation from the hospital's board and is embroiled in an ongoing legal battle with the hospital and Partners over the firing. 

Martha's Vineyard Hospital tapped Denise Schepici to take over as its CEO, and she started in January. (The Boston Globe

Christ Hospital Health Network CEO to step down 

Mike Keating, who has served as CEO of Cincinnati-based Christ Hospital Health Network since 2012, will step down "later this calendar year," the system announced. 

Hospital leaders have launched a search for his replacement. Keating previously served for five years on the system's board of directors, and he said that "it's a privilege" to have been a part of a "wonderful community asset" like Christ Hospital. (The Cincinnati Enquirer

HHS OIG says Memorial University Medical Center failed to meet Medicare billing requirements  

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General conducted a Medicare compliance review at Georgia-based Memorial University Medical Center and found the hospital did not comply with Medicare billing rules in 39 of 131 reviewed cases. 

Those claims resulted in $599,530 in overpayments, according to the OIG. Based on the sample reviewed, OIG estimates that MUMC received at least $1.4 million in overpayments during the 2015-2016 audit window. 

The hospital disputed 17 of the 39 cases in comments attached to the report, though OIG said it maintains its conclusions. (OIG report—PDF)  

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